Friday, 7 August 2015

What if...?

...What if I was different?

Hello :)

Recently, with a couple of friends we went to have lunch and to roam around "the Japanese pop culture area" in Barcelona. When we were already leaving I randomly spotted a shop that we went into to discover many cheap, second-hand valuables. Among those I spotted a manga I have special feelings for and always wanted to collect: KareKano. Usually in these places you'll find random numbers, luckily enough there were the first and the second! I got the first volume (my friend is an angel and said she would be giving me the second one because she has it).

I used to watch this show as a kid, midday TV on the sofa. I wouldn't fully understand it, I actually thought some things were kind of weird, but I liked it. 

Years later (3 years ago) I felt like watching it again and I fell in love, I thought the main character was ideal.

The next day, after reading the first manga, I told my friend how much I enjoyed it. She spontaneously said she was going to watch the animated version, I decided I would rewatch it too. And this is how a very heart-felt trip began again.

Today I am going to talk about KareKano and feelings. And feelings.


Beginning of KareKano

I think anime is for all ages. It might seem to be just for kids to "outsiders", it is mainly aimed at teenagers (all of this is an observation, not a criticism, of course), and then there are those that are more mature (which a very well-known example would be Cowboy Bebop, in my opinion). Anime looks like this very colorful, cartoony, silly, over-the-top thing, with no more sense to it than a stone. However, there are a handful that are really insightful; the odd thing that really stands out and can be held up as an example of how mature and subtle and truly notable anime as a medium, a style or a genre (call it what you will) can be.

This one specifically is tagged with the genres comedy, drama, romance, school, shoujo and slice of life (I do think psychological is a big one here, though).

You're not going to get what you expect.

Kareshi to Kanojo no Jijou (1998, full title, translated as: His and Her Circumstances) is a story about doubts, discovery, finding oneself, sunsets, questions, silences, friendship, having fun and, most importantly, love.

Let's take a ride on the KareKano train!

*This is not really a review but a personal take on it*

***You can listen to...***

In KareKano we mainly attend to the mind of actually, real characters (as far as a fictional character can dig, which is actually as much as we could). We learn a lot about the drives, fears and troubles (which mostly come from the past) of the characters, as well as what makes them smile.
I feel like it can be said that KareKano is mainly an analysis of the psychology of the characters, or at least a presentation for you to ponder. The show is indeed deep but that doesn't mean it's all gloom, actually its amount of comedy and sweetness gives you a fuzzy, heartwarming feeling at the end of each episode.

At first the series is very similar to any standard Shoujo anime. The main character is a cannonball of humor and humanity - not a dainty wussy female heroine. She's someone a female can relate to.

The story itself is great and somewhat fantastic due to its huge dramatic exaggerations, humour, and trauma used to accentuate what it wants to point out so that we can easily get it (it doesn't escape the fantasy feeling of idyllic love). It branches off gracefully from the stories of our two main characters as they progress in high school and develop into adulthood. 

A story about discovery

There's an abundance of mediocre characters in anime, this is not the case.

*-Our protagonist, Yukino Miyazawa is a character that has not only been getting by without a knight in shining armour, but has been kicking ass in her own right. Her motivations are questionable of course and ultimately driven by her own weaknesses, but her outward appearance is one of strength and confidence. As her relationship with Arima develops, her character changes and abandons her old outlook on life, deciding that she and him together will live life honestly and openly. Even here though the decisions are mutual and it never feels as if the mere presence of a man is prodding the plot forward. 

This mature approach to writing a female lead in a romance story is something which could easily be adopted by other anime series, and yet they continue to produce the same formulaic characters time and time again. But this alone is not what makes Yukino a great character; it is the level of depth and progression of her character while remaining true to her established personality. Attempting to completely change your behaviour and world view are not straightforward tasks in real life, and in fiction this is even more apparent. The realisation that she needs to change comes very early in the series but it is not until it nears its conclusion that this is fully realised. Every so often, when one starts to forget about her character’s desire to change, we are prompted with a reminder that it is an ongoing process. It feels very natural.-*I read this description of Yukino and it's the best way to describe her I could ever think of*

Arima Soichiro is your stereotypical perfect boy in anime; intelligent, nice, athletic and good-looking. He has worked hard to attain his praise as what motivated to create this perfect surface is a traumatic past. As a child, Arima was maltreated by his parents, who left him, along with a huge debt, with his uncle. His family criticize him because of his parents behavior no matter what he does, thankfully, his adoptive parents support him. He feels very lonely until...

Until he meets Yukino, who accepts him fully even after breaking through the wall of superficiality.

Then there are the secondary characters; Asaba, Maho (stubborn and great), Tsubasa (the opposite from a silly little girl), Rika (she's an angel and reminds me of my friend Petra), Aya (many young adults would feel identified with her), Sakura (a girl that knows no boundaries)... and of course, Kano and Tsukino! Yukino's wise and hilarious sisters (and Miyazawa's parents are great too!). Each one of them have some highlight too. It is curious how a lot of them come from a problematic family life background and how it has affected them on their perspective of things. Of course they don't cry it out loud, who would? but you can totally feel them.
Yukino and her family on the left, friends at the right <3

I loved the characters meaning that they make you actually care and worry about them. They are sweet and relatable, they worry about things, they get frustrated when they don't understand and regret not saying what they wanted to say, they have flaws and are full of hesitation even though they try to mask it. All the characters are likeable and hold both virtues and drawbacks, such as we do, but they all have their own particular shine that makes you love them.

I feel like that what makes the characters so real is that they may actually be a portrait of the author. It is usual to find some personal covered aspects but the thing is that it is not centered in just one character but puts a part of herself in each one (that's my guess).

I like how it is a story that doesn't have you waiting with the typical arsenal of misunderstandings of shoujo anime for the sake of intensity and cliffhangers. Still, its very emotion gives it intensity, leaving you eager to know how it is going to progress. I love how mental it is yet laid-back with its natural humor; it's a perfect balance of contrasts.

PS: I was forgetting to mention PeroPero, he is the white doggie, the real star of the series indeed.

"Visually, as the anime progresses, it delves deeper into an avant-garde style of presentation. It becomes less of an animated series and more an experiment in visual storytelling. I actually appreciated this aspect of the series and looked forward to seeing how the story would be told in each episode. From the popsicle stick figures, cityscapes, flashing images, sketch book drawings, etc. everything was very different and very interesting to watch. The music is great and fits every situation, it ranges from jolly bossanova for comedy moments to strings and piano."


Are you happy now? 

Is this the place for you?

Judgment and regret


The first thing you see when starting the anime and the manga is the first image of the post. That personally had an impact from the beginning. 
Of course we know that "You shouldn't mind about what others think about you", but to which extent do we really comply with that?... When you're making a judgmental affirmation about someone aren't you contradicting yourself? Aren't we being a little hypocritical...? I guess it's a matter of balance, but we are not as good as we think we are as the other is not as bad as we think the other is as well.

Judgment is essential. We must be critical with our surroundings and be able to discern what's good and what's bad; that's how we can progress, questioning things. But what about unnecessary judgmentalism? I really dislike subjective judgmentalism, especially when it is about people. Still, don't you ever make an internal mean judgment of someone, for example, walking down the street? I still dislike it, and when I unconsciously find myself doing that I try to stop myself. It all happens inside, but I prefer to think everyone's beautiful and everything or at least OK until I can see a reason for thinking otherwise. And still, who the hell am I to judge someone? They have their life, their world, the same way I do, I will probably never know enough about that person to make a serious judgment, and you may not even need to build up more of a relationship than it is needed. Some people are in constant change, we could be surprised anytime.

(Please note that I'm not talking about politicians and stuff, they are on the public eye and their decisions affect whole nations so I do think we can judge those x) But actually I prefer not to state any personal position when it comes to that because I don't feel confident enough in my knowledge about the topic. There's just so much we cannot imagine that goes on "behind the scenes" every day, that when I give a firm opinion it is because I have pondered about it and I actually mean it. If I disagree, I won't hide it, I'm usually sure about what I voice (although I fail maaaany times, as I'm only human, sorry)).

Now, what does this have to do with KareKano? what happens is that many topics of this type are brought up in the anime. 

Both protagonists have created an image of perfection for others to see; they are smart, perfect students, nice, and good-looking. What happens is that that is not how they really feel, what they really are: they are insecure, selfish, arrogant at times and afraid of many things, but they have this pressure around them to act  perfectly even though it is exhausting, accordingly to what they have always been showing. If they changed now, what would others thing? that they were being fake? they would certainly feel disappointed once they exposed their selfish thoughts, their REAL desires. It is the pressure of being at the top: once you're up what can you do? you can either hang in there with all your being losing yourself, or you can fall.

The black sheep?

It is well-known that nobody is perfect, we all need someone to pay attention and understand us, even if it sounds selfish, we often need to be cared about, even if we look like we have been doing perfectly until then, because what is really inside is a whole other story, but nobody knows that until you explode and you begin to talk your mind because you cannot hold everything in any longer.

One may wonder, why would they do that to themselves!? I'm pretty sure they didn't decide to be like this. That's just the expectations they were raised in. They must think that is the only think that makes them worthy to others' eyes. Without that, they wouldn't matter. It's common to just be criticized by the bad and hardly praised for anything. Being reprimanded can motivate but encouragement is also important, and it seems to be something lacking these days in which everything is made of a competition.  
I feel like everyone in this anime has an inferiority complex at some point, but it is in the main couple that we can see it the best. Although both of them are worried about appearing fake, they have different preoccupations. 

Yukino has been devoting her life to academics, she didn't consider taking time to venture on other aspects; no hobbies, no friends. Therefore, she believes she is not good at anything else than academics and feels inferior to those who have their own world outside of school, she admires that her new friends have something else to make them unique: Aya writes, Rika designs costumes and is great at crafts, etc. Somehow she feels like she must be emptier than others, and when she realizes it she is a bit sad but she decides to create her own world as well and dares to take some new project, like acting in a play. Yukino has also the complex of not being able to "help" Arima as much as she would like. While she exteriorizes her feelings, she struggles with Arima's, as he has the habit of acting always nice even though he may be conflicted inside, and that makes her feel that she is not good enough for him at times.


Tsunami Yukino

"Perhaps Arima is a lot more confused and complicated than I'd thought. It may be that I still... only know one part of Arima"

Arima is concerned about himself and his relationship with Yukino. He can see that Yukino has stepped forward to her new being, giving it all, but it's not so easy for him. He has never showed his feelings, and when he does so he horrifies himself as he discovers he has rage within. He is not "all flowers" and that surprises him. Yukino has clearly progressed but he feels stuck, he hasn't changed much at all. He is jealous of her sometimes, from now on, she can go forward no matter what, but he couldn't do that, he needs Yukino more than she needs him (that's what he thinks anyway). He believes he is not good enough for her.

What can be seen beyond that voice

He/she is X; If he/she had chosen Y instead of X...; If he/she wouldn't have had X parents... STOP, that is toxic.
So please stop quick judgment, because in fact, he or she is a multitude of things you are forgetting now in order to vent your personal frustrations.

Neither happiness nor sadness... ever permanent


Why is it treated as such a taboo? People just like to hear about the pink in your life but it's not like that all the time, in an analogy with economics, it is like a cycle: upwards, downwards. And that's okay. Arima couldn't get over his demons, but he may be able to now, little by little... I think the following images sum it up perfectly:

So Evangelion (not strange, as Hideaki Anno is involved)

Arima's demons

"You know, I don't think I've ever seen Tsubasa really laugh. She's like this right now, but I hope someday everything will be all right and she'll become happy"

Eternal interspersions (Tsubasa's things)

You are free to draw your own conclusions. What's great about art, is that everyone is allowed and can see a different perspective on the same matter. I think seeing knowing more than one makes you rich.

Love and friendship

***You have to listen to this! :D***

KareKano is a story full of love and a friendship that melts your heart; that is achieved once the main characters have "liberated" themselves and meet the right people, so they can all encourage each other and get the hope they need. Of course they are extremely mature for their age x) but it is very refreshing to see how they don't aim to compete with each other, instead they appreciate and look out for their friends all the time without side intentions.

Everything you feel is valid

Despite everything, KareKano is not a perfect show, towards the end you can tell things are kind of going down (budget? inner quarrels?), the ending is not very satisfactory as it doesn't feel like an ending, it just seems like there's a next episode (but we all know...when the anime fails, resort to the manga!). From another perspective, tough, the ending can be seen as a new beginning for someone else (Sakura and Takefumi, specifically), it's up to you. Having into account that beginnings and endings are the most impactful, you can't help but to remember how intense the show was overall and how many different things that you may had forgotten made you feel... :)

To finish with, I think KareKano is a good show that takes you back to your particular history and drives you to reflect on things from a unique point of view.

We are on a journey in which we're constantly changing in order to evolve trying to, little by little, improve ourselves, but what's most important, keeping loyal to our own spirit and intuition. When we take a step back we'll jump to steps ahead and keep chasing after what we desire no matter what our surroundings are or say.
That doesn't mean not to listen to anyone. When scolding is needed, it will happen, when we need to listen we will do so, but it will be by those who we can rely on.

I aspire to be someone who chooses to stand against what we are expected to be if it's necessary, and go for what I want trying to keep morals, cleverness, kindness and integrity.

It's an incredible thing how everything we experience shapes our future selves

"We will probably continue to change, even if something like that should happen someday, we will never forget the various feelings we experienced together"

The message I take from KareKano is that despite the adversities of the present, despite bearing sorrow from the past, we are going to be alright if we are strong, even though we may lose that strength at certain times, all we need to do is to dare to keep our spirit and our nobility. Keep your head up and don't back down. 

You're great the way you are when you are true to yourself.

Never to yield

As an ending, I leave you with the opening of the series which sums up the anime very well. If you're  in the hunt of new anime to watch, I encourage you to give KareKano a try! :D

So, what does KareKano mean to you?

See you,



  1. Ya-ho~!

    Yayyyyy! Per fi el post de Karekano *-* ja et vaig dir que em va agradar, m'ha semblat súper currat perquè a part de comentar els aspectes bàsics de l'anime, també t'has aturat a comentar el desenvolupament dels personatges i detalls importants, com el seu passat o pensaments. Es una cosa que sempre m'agrada observar en les històries així més profundes ^^ Per cert la captura de que sembla Evangelion JAJAJAJAJAJAJAJJAJA HIDEAKI ANNO-SAN PLS
    Quan vaig veure aquell episodi estava pensant "vale, ja estem a la anomenada 'etapa final d'un anime fet per Hideaki Anno", lo que podría coneixer-se com "escenes filosòfiques de reflexió" (que están molt bé perquè fan pensar), però que acaben allunyant el fil conductor principal de la història i a sobre quan queden només 2 episodis més. I tot amb dibuixos fets de paper (?) i rallajos. En fi, treient això és una història que val moooolt la pena, a més que queda ben acabada al manga (phew!). M'alegro molt d'haver-ho vist detingudament perquè com a mínim sempre s'et queden frases que et fan reflexionar i això és bo, a més que la història està explicada de forma tan natural i abarcant tant profundament el creixement dels personatges, que no pots evitar engantxart'hi x3 S'acaba avançant simplement per voler veure com afronten fins i tot un dia normal els protagonistes (babies <3).
    Feia temps que no tenia tantes ganes de seguir un anime, I'm glad, thank you for making me rediscover it ^_^

    La veritat és que hi ha històries de les quals potser estem farts d'escoltar el seu títol, però que realment valen la pena ser escoltades (o vistes/llegides). Espero que molta més gent pugui gaudir d'aquest anime, és un must-see totalment.

    Btw +3487329 extra points per posar sempre música de fons per acompanyar :3

    I again, m'ha agradat molt llegir la teva opinió i l'anàlisi tan accurate i profund :D A més súper currat amb moltes screenshots <3
    Amb ganes de llegir més hehe


    1. Joo moltes gràcies :'3 what can I say
      Em sembla un anime molt inspirador! Sobretot per persones en aquesta edat!
      I sí, com dius, al final canvia tot tant que sembla un altre cosa i tot xD For the sake of symbolism tho I guess. M'encanta com tan aquí com a Evangelion s'enfronten amb sí mateixos més que amb qualsevol factor extern.

      Realment són personatges que valen la pena els de KareKano ♡⃛◟( ˊ̱˂˃ˋ̱ )◞⸜₍ ˍ́˱˲ˍ̀ ₎⸝◟( ˊ̱˂˃ˋ̱ )◞♡⃛ (lol i don't even know what this is).

      Gràcies sempre <3

  2. Btw m'he identificat tant amb la screenshot de l'Arima on diu "What if that turned out to be a horrible person?!" que m'he espantat jajaja
    Ja m'ho vas dir tu mateixa, però moltes vegades m'identificava amb ell perquè com que des de fa anys m'he "obligat" a intentar ser més sociable i que la gent se senti a gust amb mi, de vegades em canso o se'm venen pensaments oposats i em fan qüestionar-me si realment no és tot una obra de teatre en la vida real. Però al cap del temps m'en vaig adonant que en realitat, és simplement que s'està en procés de canvi i és com que vas una mica a contracorrent del teu propi cos o "ser original", però si és un canvi per a millor, no ha de ser dolent ni vol dir que sigui menys vàlid que el teu passat o fals. És... diferent, està en procés. Un dia simplement s'haurà tornat tant la nostra forma natural de ser que ja ni ens ho plantejarem. De fet m'ha passat amb moltes actituds que fa anys que pensava "tan de bo pogués tenir-les jo també". És qüestió de moldejar-se a un mateix, poc a poc, i de vegades potser el truc és no pensar tant ^^

    The end *se sierra el telonsito rojiso*

    1. +1234567 amb la mateixa screenshot

      És esgotador forçar-te a mantenir una conversa que realment mmmm... meh, o forçar-te a interactuar quan realment no ho sents així. Crec que es pot ser com es vulgui mentre no es faci mal colateral (ni a un mateix si pot ser, tot i que és més difícil). Ahh conec la struggle, per no ser una "social beast" m'han "taxat" de asocial, rara...etc. I es com "ok gràcies és el que sento fa mal que em rebutgis per com sóc, no odio a ningú però no puc fingir tampoc". Ara em "taxen" de "selectiva" x) així que sembla que only VIPs allowed xD
      Estic molt contenta de poder compartir aquest aspecte que sempre se m'havia fet una bola que no sabia on posar, veure que no vol dir que "estiguis defectuós" treu un pes de sobre. Tot i així, cal tenir en compte que només per ser "diferent" es tendirà a ser jutjat abans que els altres, a més que la gent oblida que hi ha més d'un tipus de "diferent". Però no para de millorar so...good!

      I sí, a vegades es molt fàcil ofuscar-se a un mateix amb els seus pensaments! Gotta learn to relax more :D

      Moltes gràcies pels teus comentaris, són valuosos i sentits wow :3

      The end *aplaudeix*